Are you eating enough fish? Why — and how — to eat more

Be it fear of mercury, fear of cooking fish, or something else, only 1 in 10 Americans are eating the recommended dose of seafood.

On Nutrition

Omega-3 fatty acids are so beneficial for health, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and playing a critical role in fetal brain development during pregnancy, that the American Heart Association and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating fish at least twice weekly — at least 8 ounces total. So why are only 1 in 10 Americans meeting that goal?

One reason is concern about mercury contamination, but the benefits of regular fish consumption outweigh any potential risks if you avoid the high-mercury king mackerel, shark, swordfish and tilefish. Another reason is that many people simply aren’t sure how to cook fish. I know from personal experience that cooking fish can seem intimidating, even if you don’t blink at cooking meat or poultry. Well, the good news is that here in the Northwest, wild Alaska salmon is king (or sockeye, or coho) and not only does it have some of the lowest mercury levels of all seafood, it’s the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids. The next-best sources are sardines, trout and anchovies, but tuna is also a good option.

The 2017 wild Alaska salmon season is in progress, and while king salmon (aka chinook) is the most prized for its rich red flesh, firm texture and high oil content, it’s also the rarest and the most expensive (especially this year, because runs are at an all-time low). Four other species of Alaska salmon to consider:

• Sockeye has rich flavor and deep red, firm-textured flesh. Runs are also down this year, but it’s still significantly less expensive than king.

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• Coho salmon has orange-red flesh, a firm texture and delicate flavor. The price tends to be similar to sockeye, but runs are predicted to be high this year, so it may be…

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